May 24, 2012

Locate BYOD Devices with Network Management: Use NetFlow and Mobile IAM

Most of us have experienced the frustration of temporarily misplacing our phones; how do you recover a BYOD device? I’ve seen people take several approaches that usually don’t involve network management solutions.  Some of us look in all the usual places we leave things, others try to trace their steps and then there are those who ask others if they have seen the cell phone.  When the misplacement happens at the company you work for, a similar approach is taken – however, what else can be done to help find the device?

Losing a smart phone is often frustrating, can lead to lost time and ultimately lowers productivity.  Ideally the recovery is swift and easy.  How can this be done?  
One tool available on iPhones is iCloud where you can login, click on a button and the location of your phone will plotted on a Google map.   It doesn’t tell  you which jacket or pocket you left it in, however, it does motivate you to look harder and if you still can’t find it.  The iCloud application allows you to click a button which forces the iPhone to play a loud audible message even if it is on vibrate.
How to Find a BYOD Device
Other alternatives to finding phones involve network traffic monitoring tools like a NetFlow collector.  Many NetFlow and IPFIX capable devices export authentication details which allow administrators to click on your user name and display the IP addresses you have authenticated onto the network with. 
Mobile IAM Report Looking for BYOD Device - iPhone

Using the find IP address utility found in just about any IPFIX and NetFlow analyzer, we can narrow the search down to a specific switch and port.  If the phone is actively connected to a wireless access point, we can narrow the search down to a floor or wing of a building. 
If you happen to have a Mobile IAM solution whereby devices must authenticate onto the network and agree to a periodic scanning, you can probably use this appliance to help find a mobile device as well.  The mobile device management(MDM) console will tell you which switches the handheld device recently authenticated to.  Often times, a hint like this can help an administrator pinpoint the location of the misplaced device. 
Just in case it is never found, make sure your company has implemented BYOD Securityin case “the finder” tries to authenticate onto your network.
Anyway, I hope you find your phone!  Happy hunting.
About The Contributor:
Mike PattersonCEO, Plixer

As one of the founders of the company, Michael has been involved in the development of Scrutinizer NetFlow and sFlow Analyzer as well as Flow Analytics at Plixer. He enjoys writing and blogging about all things NetFlow, IPFIX and sFlow related.

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